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Thoughts on defending Rand against this attack?

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Hello all. My name is Bobby Dobbs. I am a professional boxing matchmaker. I also consider myself to be an objectivist. Recently in a Women's boxing forum (of all places) a female fighter mentioned she had a degree in architecture.

I wrote back asking her if she had ever read The Fountainhead. Then a person named "Dan" wrote a scathing attack on Ayn Rand. I am tempted to write my own response but, I thought it would be better to bring out the "big guns" and let one of you field this one. I am sure you are much better at shotting down his silly arguments than I would be.

Here is a link to the forum topic and his reposonse:

http://www.voy.com/59609/4411.html

http://www.voy.com/59609/4412.html

Looking forward to seeing this guy dismantled,

Bobby Dobbs

[Moderator: Edited thread title for clarity.]

Edited by BurgessLau
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There are no proper arguments there to refute, it's just some unpleasant personal attacks. I would just try to ignore it.

Cheers

Ian

What about his characterization of the book??? Also there are a lot of people in that room hearing the name Ayn Rand for the first time. I would like some true intellectuals to step in and help explain what I really am not able to do properly. I cannot give her the justice she deserves. But people here can. I hope someone will take a few minutes and post something.

Bobby

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What about his characterization of the book??? Also there are a lot of people in that room hearing the name Ayn Rand for the first time. I would like some true intellectuals to step in and help explain what I really am not able to do properly. I cannot give her the justice she deserves. But people here can. I hope someone will take a few minutes and post something.

Your reply was more than adequate - to a person who makes no arguments to support his personal views. Instead of arguing, he resorts to petty insults and copies only what people have already said about her. Do not be troubled by it. She and her philosophy have survived worse than him.

BTW, his claims about Ayn Rand and her philosophy, even if they offer no arguments whatsoever, can easily be dismantled by simply taking a look at what kind of person she really was. There are documentaries about her, which contain some of the live apperances she did; moreover, there are books - her Journals she kept while writing her novels, and a published collection of her letters ("Letters of Ayn Rand") in which her true character is shown. Even someone who hasn't read a single book of hers, but has seen the documentary, or read any of these books, will easily come to a conclusion that she was a kind person and not misanthropist and bitter.

Anyway, just take a look at his reply to your simple statement of admiration for a book; speaking of misanthropism and bitterness!

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There, let's see what he says about that.

Inspector,

Please explain to me what you meant when you posted:

"does one have to be an atheist to be a pure "objectivist""

Yes.

Because my understanding is that if a person can come to the conclusion of a deity based on reason instead of faith in the unknown, then it (belief in a deity) is compatitble with an objectivist philosophy.

Thanks

Bobby

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Because my understanding is that if a person can come to the conclusion of a deity based on reason instead of faith in the unknown, then it (belief in a deity) is compatitble with an objectivist philosophy.

Thanks

Bobby

Your statement is true on its face, but leaving out one critical fact: it is impossible to come to the conclusion of a deity based on reason since it is a self-contradictory concept. So yes, if one could rationally prove a deity it would be okay to Objectivism, but one cannot rationally prove a deity. In fact, it can and has been rationally proven that no such thing is possible.

So you're half-right. Hope that helps.

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Bobby, you have been doing a great job in defending Objectivism and for the right reason. You will not be able to convert this person, but most of the others who are reading the post will only have had his ignorant view of Ayn Rand if you had said nothing. I have used the same strategy in many of my college classes in defending Objectivist values and concepts dealing with capitalism, government, individuality and human sacrifice for the same reason. I disagree with those who said that dan should have been ignored. When we do not refute ignorance and lies when the opportunity arises the only knowledge many will have of Objectivism will be ignorant and inaccurate.

You requested help so here is a little advice.

One area where you might want to reiterate is dan’s inaccurate view of the proper role of government.

“I also object to the idea that we owe nothing (meaning no taxes) to the society we live in-becausue we all benefit directly and sometimes indirectly from r the combined resources of society-and hence could do so much less without others and their mutual contributions. There would be no commerce, trade, or any other government. we would all have to grow our own food, generate our own electricity, purify our own water, and make our own clothes, pave our own private roads, make and test our own medicines for safety, when we are sick to make sure they are safe...the list goes on.”

Only the part about “no taxes” should be addressed because the rest are irrational whims without any backing or proof (which you could give as a reason for not responding). If anything it is the “combined resources of society” in the form of irrational regulations that cause the high prices for the services and good that he claims we would have to make ourselves without a government that would take care of our every desire. Mrs. Rand (not Ms. as dan kept writing) never said we should not pay taxes. She said that a government’s only proper role is in protecting its citizens from theft, violence, fraud and other forms of coercion. The proper role of a government is not to take money and property from citizens that are viewed as being unworthy of having the money and property that they had earned from their work and given to others that the government considers more worthy based solely on the whims of the powers that be. It is proper for taxes to be used to provide military and police protection, but it is improper to take half the money I make only because I make it and give it to my neighbor who does not work solely because he does not work (or anyone else for any other reason).

Also, you may wish to read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand to brush up on Rand’s explanation of the existence of god. You missed the mark a little bit.

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Bobby, you have been doing a great job in defending Objectivism and for the right reason.  You will not be able to convert this person, but most of the others who are reading the post will only have had his ignorant view of Ayn Rand if you had said nothing.  I have used the same strategy in many of my college classes in defending Objectivist values and concepts dealing with capitalism, government, individuality and human sacrifice for the same reason.  I disagree with those who said that dan should have been ignored.  When we do not refute ignorance and lies when the opportunity arises the only knowledge many will have of Objectivism will be ignorant and inaccurate. 

You requested help so here is a little advice.

One area where you might want to reiterate is dan’s inaccurate view of the proper role of government. 

“I also object to the idea that we owe nothing (meaning no taxes) to the society we live in-becausue we all benefit directly and sometimes indirectly from r the combined resources of society-and hence could do so much less without others and their mutual contributions. There would be no commerce, trade, or any other government. we would all have to grow our own food, generate our own electricity, purify our own water, and make our own clothes, pave our own private roads, make and test our own medicines for safety, when we are sick to make sure they are safe...the list goes on.”

Only the part about “no taxes” should be addressed because the rest are irrational whims without any backing or proof (which you could give as a reason for not responding).  If anything it is the “combined resources of society” in the form of irrational regulations that cause the high prices for the services and good that he claims we would have to make ourselves without a government that would take care of our every desire.  Mrs. Rand (not Ms. as dan kept writing) never said we should not pay taxes.  She said that a government’s only proper role is in protecting its citizens from theft, violence, fraud and other forms of coercion.  The proper role of a government is not to take money and property from citizens that are viewed as being unworthy of having the money and property that they had earned from their work and given to others that the government considers more worthy based solely on the whims of the powers that be. It is proper for taxes to be used to provide military and police protection, but it is improper to take half the money I make only because I make it and give it to my neighbor who does not work solely because he does not work (or anyone else for any other reason).

Also, you may wish to read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand to brush up on Rand’s explanation of the existence of god.  You missed the mark a little bit.

Thanks for the kind words and the clarifications

I am agnostic at best and my motives for saying that religion is not unacceptable to an objectivist lie in the fact that if someone tells a mystic that belief in god is bad, they will automatically think that everything you are saying is rooted in evil and stop listening. I think they need to be finessed into grasping the basic principles of objectivism first before they can accept the harder parts.

By me saying God is arbitrary and can't be proven or disproven, but must be solved with logic and reason, is saying by osmosis that there is no god.

But I think they need to reach that conclusion on their own.

Isn't the only thing an objectivist must think is that they must THINK?

Bobby

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I am agnostic at best and my motives for saying that religion is not unacceptable to an objectivist lie in the fact that if someone tells a mystic that belief in god is bad, they will automatically think that everything you are saying is rooted in evil and stop listening. I think they need to be finessed into grasping the basic principles of objectivism first before they can accept the harder parts.

You want to finess mystics towards Objectivism by concealing that the philosophy rejects faith and religion? Sounds more like a sales technique used by a devious salesman promoting a bad product. By contrast Objectivists proudly proclaim the principles of the philosophy, and rarely seek out mystics to convert, by finessing or otherwise.

And, if you are at all familiar with Objectivism how can you claim that religion is "not unacceptable to an [O]bjectivist?" Have you actually read Ayn Rand?

By me saying God is arbitrary and can't be proven or disproven, but must be solved with logic and reason, is saying by osmosis that there is no god.
I do not understand your point. What do you mean that God "must be solved with logic and reason?" If a notion is arbitrary it is not amenable to logic or reason.

Isn't the only thing an objectivist must think is that they must THINK?

Catchy phrase, but true thinking requires adherence to logic and the facts or reality, not finesse.

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Isn't the only thing an objectivist must think is that they must THINK?

Please note that the correct spelling of the proper name for Ayn Rand's philosophy is "Objectivism." The word "objectivism" -- with a lowercase "o" -- names only one narrow doctrine in the traditional history of philosophy, not a whole philosophy, and certainly not the whole philosophy Ayn Rand created. See Forum Rules, "Spelling and Grammar."

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You want to finess mystics towards Objectivism by concealing that the philosophy rejects faith and religion?  Sounds more like a sales technique used by a devious salesman promoting a bad product. By contrast Objectivists proudly proclaim the principles of the philosophy, and rarely seek out mystics to convert, by finessing or otherwise.

And, if you are at all familiar with Objectivism how can you claim that religion is "not unacceptable to an [O]bjectivist?" Have you actually read Ayn Rand?

I do not understand your point. What do you mean that God "must be solved with logic and reason?" If a notion is arbitrary it is not amenable to logic or reason.

Catchy phrase, but true thinking requires adherence to logic and the facts or reality, not finesse.

If you will read what I said, it makes sense. You don't want to make someone stop hearing what you are saying before you even get started. Maybe that is salesmanship. But, there isnt anything wrong with it if it helps people to see and understand Objectivism. I think the religion aspect of Objectivism is a journey that a person who converts will eventually understand on their own. I have seen that first hand with my wife.

What if a person believes in god based on logical reasons of the complexities of the universe and the odds of it happening at random? Or perhaps because of certain amazing coincidences (miracles) that they have seen in their lives.

These reasons are not based on faith but by reason. And since I cannot disprove God any more than they can prove God, then it seems a bit unreasonable to unilaterally claim that there is no creator and leave no room for acceptance of facts and reason to change my mind if those fact become available.

Bobby

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You don't want to make someone stop hearing what you are saying before you even get started.

If you are speaking to a rational person, how can you make him stop hearing what you are saying even before you start? It doesn't make sense.

No rational person would stop hearing (listening) simply because someone else, acting in a rational, respectful manner, says something. Only an irrational person would deactivate his mind in such a situation.

A rational person, with no prior context established, would at least ask a question to verify what he thought he heard -- a brief question, such as: "What do you mean?" or "Why do you say that?"

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If you will read what I said, it makes sense.

I did read it, and it makes no sense.

You don't want to make someone stop hearing what you are saying before you even get started.
And you do not attempt to convert mystics by concealing the fact that Objectivsm rejects mysticism in any form.

Maybe that is salesmanship. But, there isnt anything wrong with it if it helps people to see and understand Objectivism.

How pragmatic an attitude that is, and so un-Objectivist.

I think the religion aspect of Objectivism ...
What "religious aspect of Objectivism?" Objectivism rejects religion wholesale, completely, wholly, and fully. Undeniably. Irrevocably. Forever.

I ask again: have you actually read Ayn Rand?

... is a journey that a person who converts will eventually understand on their own. I have seen that first hand with my wife.

Your words reveal so little about facts but are filled with innuendo. What exactly do you mean to say?

What if a person believes in god based on logical reasons of the complexities of the universe and the odds of it happening at random?
Then, at best, they have made an error of logic or knowledge. At worst, they have chosen faith over reason.

Or perhaps because of certain amazing coincidences (miracles) that they have seen in their lives.

You mean, because they choose their feelings about something rather than evaluating facts with logic?

These reasons are not based on faith but by reason.
You and I do not have the same understanding of the meaning of reason and faith.

And since I cannot disprove God any more than they can prove God, then it seems a bit unreasonable to unilaterally claim that there is no creator and leave no room for acceptance of facts and reason to change my mind if those fact become available.

The assertion of a God is an arbitrary claim and has no more significance than asserting that there is a little green man inside of your head who is controlling what you say. I think you need to study logic and reasoning. There are many lectures available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore, as well as books including Miss Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. You really should learn the philosophy first before you go off converting others to Objectivism.

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If you are speaking to a rational person, how can you make him stop hearing what you are saying even before you start? It doesn't make sense.

No rational person would stop hearing (listening) simply because someone else, acting in a rational, respectful manner, says something. Only an irrational person would deactivate his mind in such a situation.

A rational person, with no prior context established, would at least ask a question to verify what he thought he heard -- a brief question, such as: "What do you mean?" or "Why do you say that?"

I certainly agree that mystics are irrational. But, not everyone who is irrational is incurably irrational. They have been programmed from an early age to believe certain things and to fear anyone who dares question their belief in god. I think that by trying to teach the principles of thinking for yourself and not being led by the collective first, you don't scare them away and you at least move them to the point where they can understand why mysticism is irrational and wrong.

Maybe I am wrong. But, I have certainly seen this manifest itself in my wife. It is easy to say that I shouldn’t care about what others think. And I really don't.

But, to try and create more Objectivists is a worthy goal. Because, ultimately it makes the world a better place for me to live in.

Side note: I am not going to respond to Speichers posts. His 'holier than thou' attitude and insulting way of discussing this are not something that I choose to participate in.

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What if a person believes in god based on logical reasons of the complexities of the universe and the odds of it happening at random? Or perhaps because of certain amazing coincidences (miracles) that they have seen in their lives.

These reasons are not based on faith but by reason.

While it's true that you can make logical arguments for the existence of God, the problem is that while the arguments may be valid, the premises on which such arguments are based are not verifiable, or or just plain false, so the conclusions are also false.

Consider this argument: 1) all men are oranges, 2) all oranges are citrus fruits, 3) therefore, men are citrus fruits. The logic of this argument is valid, but the conclusion is false because premise #1 is false.

Logical method is good, but you also need verifiable facts to base it on.

And since I cannot disprove God any more than they can prove God, then it seems a bit unreasonable to unilaterally claim that there is no creator and leave no room for acceptance of facts and reason to change my mind if those fact become available.

You do not need to disprove God, because you don't need to disprove a "nothing". It is the responsibility of theists to verify the existence of their deity, not our responsibility to disprove it.

It is unreasonable to expect someone to indefinitely leave their minds open in the absence of rational justification. If no proof has been presented, there is no reason to believe it.

If you are interested in what the rational arguments against God might be, I recommend the book "Atheism: The Case Against God". It discusses many, many arguments presented through history in defense of God, and dismantles them.

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Thesweetscience,

You wrote: But, to try and create more Objectivists is a worthy goal."

Objectivism can stand on its own. To conceal the fact that Objectivism rejects religious faith to "lure 'em in" is distasteful and also ultimately disrespectful of those you are trying to "convert".

Mr. Speicher is simply not doing what you wish to do to others: candy-coat truth. I guess it does seem fitting that those who advocate hiding the blunt truth are themselves unable to accept truth unless it is cloaked with nice words.

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Thesweetscience,

You wrote: But, to try and create more Objectivists is a worthy goal."

Objectivism can stand on its own. To conceal the fact that Objectivism rejects religious faith to "lure 'em in" is distasteful and also ultimately disrespectful of those you are trying to "convert".

Mr. Speicher is simply not doing what you wish to do to others: candy-coat truth. I guess it does seem fitting that those who advocate hiding the blunt truth are themselves unable to accept truth unless it is cloaked with nice words.

Sherlock, remember the context of the question that was asked of me. "Does one have to be an atheist to be an Objectivist"

I take the term atheist to be a person who does not believe in "god". I think a person CAN believe in a creator and still be an Objectivist.

If the question had been can a person have "religious faith" and still be an Objectivist? I would have definately answered no.

I still believe in the strictest sense my answer to him is correct. It may be a technicality, but it is still correct.

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Thesweetscience,

You've got to be kidding. To pretend that to be an atheist, one cannot believe in God but still can believe in a "creator" is simply ludicrous. You are indulging in semantics, and not very effective semantics at that. No, a person most emphatically can NOT believe in a "creator" and still be an Objectivist (which, by the way, you have been asked to capitalize before---please do so). I don't think you understand Objectivism at all if you think this.

By the way, I just went there and found that there have been quite a few more posts. I haven't read them yet, but I hope you will be more careful in what you say before responding.

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Objectivism can stand on its own. To conceal the fact that Objectivism rejects religious faith to "lure 'em in" is distasteful and also ultimately disrespectful of those you are trying to "convert".

Mr. Speicher is simply not doing what you wish to do to others: candy-coat truth. I guess it does seem fitting that those who advocate hiding the blunt truth are themselves unable to accept truth unless it is cloaked with nice words.

Agreed. Being direct is always better. If what you are saying is persuasive and true, eventually the individuals who have the potential to be swayed, will be. If not, too bad for them.

To answer your original question: how do you argue against such people?, in terms of method, I would say:

1) keep to the original points

2) know when to stop

For example, the poster that started you off, "dan", is just a twit. No prettier way to put it. With someone like that, I would not worry about speaking to them but would simply attempt to set the record straight, which is what you did. It is very helpful to present the alternative viewpoint, and how Objectivism helped you personally. You never know who may be affected also as a result of your support. "dan" will never going to come around to your viewpoint, so you should consider your job done once you have spoken your mind, and you realize you are not making any logical headway.

The poster "Jean" seems like a world-weary pragmatist. They are familiar with Rand but still don't get it. What can you say to someone like that? Again, just set the record straight and when you've done that, you've done all you can.

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